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Young offenders jail in Northallerton is eighth most overcrowded in the country
MOST of the prisons in England and Wales are overcrowded and holding far more inmates than they were designed for, figures reveal.
And among the worst is a North Yorkshire jail that dates back to 1783, according to the Prison Reform Trust.
Their figures show that nearly two-thirds of the country’s jails are overcrowded – with Northallerton at eighth on its list.
The facility holds a mix of young offenders and adults from the North Yorkshire area and according to the trust it is overcrowded by 159 per cent – slightly less than three years ago when the figure was 162 per cent.
The trust said Northallerton’s “certified normal accommodation” – the standard of accommodation that the Prison Service aspires to – was 146, but it actually held 232.
The reformers say that nationally there are 7,294 more people in the system than it is designed and built to hold.
Kennet, in Merseyside, tops the trust’s overcrowded list, followed by Shrewsbury and Swansea.
The trust said overcrowding had a tangible effect on prisoners and made it harder for staff to work intensively with offenders on resettlement.
It pointed out that currently 47 per cent of adults reoffend within a year of leaving prison, rising to almost 57 per cent for those who have served a sentence of less than 12 months.
On top of that almost 70 per cent of the under-17s released from custody reoffend within a year.
Director Juliet Lyon said: “Building our way out of the overcrowding problem is not the answer.
“The prison population can be safely reduced by curbing inflation in sentencing, calling a halt to any unnecessary use of custodial remand, dealing with addictions and investing in effective community penalties.”
A Prison Service spokeswoman said: “All of our prisons provide acceptable levels of accommodation for prisoners, although some prisons hold more people than they were originally designed for.
“We are aiming to reduce the existence of crowding alongside reducing the cost of the prison estate.”
Nationally, the prison population is 86,801. Five years ago it was 80,762.